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Centre for Penal Theory and Penal Ethics

Institute of Criminology

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Other Volumes

Deserved Criminal Sentences

Deserved Criminal Sentences

von Hirsch, A. (2017) Deserved Criminal Sentences. Oxford: Hart.

This book provides an accessible and systematic restatement of the desert model for criminal sentencing by one of its leading academic exponents. The desert model emphasises the degree of seriousness of the offender's crime in deciding the severity of his punishment, and has become increasingly influential in recent penal practice and scholarly debate. It explains why sentences should be based principally on crime-seriousness, and addresses, among other topics, how a desert-based penalty scheme can be constructed; how to gauge punishments' seriousness and penalties' severity; what weight should be given to an offender's previous convictions; how non-custodial sentences should be scaled; and what leeway there might be for taking other factors into account, such as an offender's need for treatment. The volume will be of interest to all those working in penal theory and practice, criminal sentencing and the criminal law more generally.

This book is the Founding Director's latest exposition of his desert model for criminal sentencing.




Sentencing Multiple Crimes

Sentencing Multiple Crimes

Ryberg, J., Roberts, J.V. and de Keijser, J.W. (eds) (2017) Sentencing Multiple Crimes. Oxford: OUP.

Most people assume that criminal offenders have only been convicted of a single crime. However, in reality almost half of offenders stand to be sentenced for more than one crime. The high proportion of multiple-crime offenders poses a number of practical and theoretical challenges for the criminal justice system. For instance, how should courts punish multiple offenders relative to individuals who have been sentenced for a single crime? Should a court simply determine a specific sentence for each individual crime and then impose the total sentences on the offender? If this happens, an offender convicted of a large number of crimes of low seriousness will receive a sentence comparable to that which would be appropriate to a single very serious crime. Such an outcome would violate the principle of ordinal proportionality in sentencing. This book discusses a range of questions relating to multiple crime cases from the perspective of several legal theories. It considers questions such as the overall proportionality of the crimes committed, the temporal span between the crimes, and the relationship between theories about the punitive treatment of recidivists and multiple offenders. Contributors representing six different countries and the fields of legal theory, philosophy, and psychology offer their perspectives to the volume, broadening the scope beyond that of the United States. The chapters in this volume therefore contribute to international and domestic efforts to promote a more principled approach to sentencing offenders convicted of multiple offences.

The Centre contributed to the workshop from which this collection arose.

Liberal Criminal Theory

Liberal Criminal Theory: Essays for Andreas von Hirsch

Simester, A.P., du Bois-Pedain, A. and Neumann, U. (eds) (2014) Liberal Criminal Theory: Essays for Andreas von Hirsch. Oxford: Hart.

This book celebrates Andreas (Andrew) von Hirsch's pioneering contributions to liberal criminal theory. He is particularly noted for reinvigorating desert-based theories of punishment, for his development of principled normative constraints on the enactment of criminal laws, and for helping to bridge the gap between Anglo-American and German criminal law scholarship. Underpinning his work is a deep commitment to a liberal vision of the state. This collection brings together a distinguished group of international authors, who pay tribute to von Hirsch by engaging with topics on which he himself has focused. The essays range across sentencing theory, questions of criminalisation, and the relation between criminal law and the authority of the state. Together, they articulate and defend the ideal of a liberal criminal justice system, and present a fitting accolade to Andreas von Hirsch's scholarly life.

This collection, co-edited by the Centre's Deputy Director, is a Festschrift in honour of the Founding Director's contributions to liberal criminal theory.

Crimes, Harms, and Wrongs

Crimes, Harms, and Wrongs

Simester, A.P. and von Hirsch, A. (2011) Crimes, Harms, and Wrongs: On the Principles of Criminalisation. Oxford: Hart.

When should we make use of the criminal law? Crimes, Harms, and Wrongs offers a philosophical analysis of the nature and ethical limits of criminalisation. The authors explore the scope of harm-based prohibitions, proscriptions of offensive behaviour, and 'paternalistic' prohibitions aimed at preventing self-harm, developing guiding principles for these various grounds of state prohibition. Both authors have written extensively in the field. They have produced an integrated, accessible, philosophically-sophisticated account that will be of great interest to legal academics, philosophers, and advanced students alike.

This book was produced in collaboration by the Founding Director and Professor Andrew Simester, who was a Visiting Fellow at the Centre at the time.






Appraising Strict Liability

Appraising Strict Liability

Simester, A.P. (ed) (2005) Appraising Strict Liability. Oxford: OUP.

Strict liability is a controversial phenomenon in the criminal law because of its potential to convict blameless persons. Offences are said to impose strict liability when, in relation to one or more elements of the actus reus, there is no need for the prosecution to prove a corresponding mens rea or fault element. For example, in the 1986 case of Storkwain, the defendant chemists were convicted of selling controlled medicines without prescription simply upon proof that they had in fact done so. It was irrelevant that they neither knew nor had reason to suspect that the ‘prescriptions’ they fulfilled were forgeries. Thus strict liability offences have the potential to generate criminal convictions of persons who are morally innocent. This book is a collection of contributions offering a consideration of the problem of strict liability in the criminal law. The chapters, including European and Anglo-American perspectives, provide an examination of the fundamental issues. They explore the definition of strict liability; the relationship between strict liability and blame, and its implications for the requirement for culpability in criminal law; the relevance of European and human rights jurisprudence; and the interaction between substantive rules of strict liability and evidential presumptions.

This book arose from a conference hosted by the Centre.